17 JANUARY 2023 | NEWS
In an anticipated move, the UK Government is set to block a controversial Bill passed through the Scottish Parliament, in a move which Nicola Sturgeon has slammed as “stoking a culture war”.
The legislation aims to make it easier for transgender people to ‘self-identify’ as the gender they wish to transition to, without a medical diagnosis for gender dysphoria.
However, the UK Government will block the Bill on the basis that, as it has indicated, could impact upon equality legislation.
In response to a letter from the Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack, informing her of the Government’s plan to block the legislation, Ms Sturgeon tweeted: “This is a full-frontal attack on our democratically elected Scottish Parliament and its ability to make its own decisions on devolved matters.”
Mr Jack argued that this Bill would conflict with the Equalities Act 2010, “a vital piece of legislation and the cornerstone in the protection against discrimination, harassment and victimisation”.
But doubling down on her message, she told BBC News today: “[This legislation] doesn’t give a trans person a single additional right that they didn’t have before this Bill.
“It simply takes an existing process and makes it less inhumane [and] traumatising for trans people.
“So this is a UK Government that sees an opportunity to stoke a culture war, I think wrongly, and I think [they] are a very misguided and mistaken about that.
“But, in doing so, undermining the Scottish Parliament and we will defend it.”
Mr Jack argued that his decision to intervene, with the backing of the Prime Minister, “is entirely about safeguarding safe spaces for women and children”.
He added that it would be difficult to have two different gender recognition certificates in the UK.
However, the First Minister also vowed to challenge the Government in the courts over its intervention, declaring that “we’ll be defending Scottish democracy”.
Preventing the Bill from reaching Royal Assent, meaning it would then be written into law, will be the first time that Section 35 of the Scotland Act 1998 has been used.
This statute allows the Westminster Government to block legislation passed through the Scottish Parliament.
Whilst supporters of the Gender Bill argue that it allows trans people greater rights and autonomy over their gender identity, critics say it has the potential to impede women’s rights.